By Claire Taylor

BRITISH Wool has announced major changes to its grading network, with plans to close four of its 12 depots as part of a major cost-saving effort.

Covid-19 has had a significant detrimental impact on the global wool market and despite the fact that British Wool has cleared the 11million kg of unsold wool it had at the end of April, it insisted that the market remained 'extremely challenging'.

Wool producers have been assured that where grading depots are closed they will be replaced with a new Intermediate Depot in the nearby area, to ensure no extra haulage charges.

Acting chief executive of British Wool, Andrew Hogley, explained: “British Wool has managed to sell wool in decent volumes since August which has allowed us to clear last season’s unsold stock but prices are still severely depressed. The global market faces an oversupply of cross-bred wool, this is mainly from New Zealand but also from other European markets. Although we have seen some more positive signs in recent auctions on some wool types, carpet wools remain under a great deal of pressure."

The contract carpet market which serves hotels, offices, cinemas, restaurants, airports, and cruise ships remains extremely depressed due to the closure of the hospitality trade.

“In order for us to maximise the value of producers' wool it is critical that we re-shape the business in-line with current market conditions," continued Mr Hogley. "Next season we will be reducing the number of grading depots that we operate from 12 to eight. This will result in the closure of our grading depots in Irvine, Porthmadog, Stamford and Liskeard and the wool from these areas will be reallocated to other grading depots within our network."

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